ASM Statement in Response to Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Hearing

April 27, 2023

Statement from the American Society for Microbiology
in response to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing:
“Antimicrobial Resistance: Examining an Emerging Public Health Threat”

April 28, 2023

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), on behalf of more than 30,000 members in the United States and around the world, thanks Chairman Morgan Griffith, Ranking Member Kathy Castor and members of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for holding today’s hearing to discuss how we can better understand and address the public health challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The complexity and the urgency of the problems presented by AMR means it must be addressed with a multi-faceted approach and with multiple stakeholders in the United States and internationally. ASM and its members have been actively engaged in policy development and discussions pertaining to AMR, and as such we offer the following points for your consideration:

Support Basic Research and Novel Diagnostics and Therapeutics.

To address AMR’s challenges, Congress must continue to invest in basic and translational research on microbes through the National Institutes of Health and other federal science agencies. Investing in research and development of novel diagnostic tools and approaches is key to prevent resistance emergence and utilization of new therapeutics. Diagnostics play a central role in addressing AMR and in practicing antimicrobial stewardship in healthcare settings. Congress has an opportunity to expand investments in the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to focus on innovative diagnostics in the upcoming Pandemics and All-Hazards Preparedness Act reauthorization. The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) also offers a new model for the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics to address AMR.

Genomic Sequencing Plays an Essential Role in Tackling AMR

Congress has made important investments in genomic sequencing and authorized expanded partnerships and programs, but we need robust and sustained funding for programs funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. These programs are critical to addressing AMR and complement the research and development taking place in academic centers and in the private sector. The CDC Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) program supports technologies that help public health laboratories detect existing and emerging antibiotic-resistant organisms. By including AMD technologies in antibiotic resistance surveillance, scientists can further examine these pathogens to understand their emergence and prevent transmission.  

Bolstering the Medical Microbiology Workforce

Clinical laboratories, including microbiology laboratories, have experienced personnel shortages for many years now, which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated. ASM appreciates the Committee’s attention to the needs of the healthcare workforce and the threat that shortages have on patient care and the broader medical ecosystem, but we must continue to address these shortages. While the challenges facing the profession are myriad, the federal government can provide incentives and support. These include the establishment of loan forgiveness programs and federal training grants that include medical microbiologists and other medical laboratory scientists and professionals, both in and outside of public health settings.

AMR is a Global Challenge

AMR threatens both public health and national security, and rising resistance anywhere in the world is a threat everywhere. As a global scientific society, ASM urges Congress to consider how federal support here in the U.S. can extend to addressing research, surveillance and stewardship efforts in countries around the world. The alignment of domestic AMR policy with the global policy infrastructure is critical to tackling the issue, and U.S. policy must reflect both the global challenges and specific domestic concerns. We urge Congress to continue to support the U.S. Antimicrobial Resistance (AR) Laboratory Network funded through CDC, and which is now authorized to focus on global laboratory capacity to provide technical assistance to countries around the world to address AMR.

We thank the Subcommittee for consideration of our views. ASM is committed to assisting the Subcommittee, its members, the Congress and the Administration as we continue to consider the issues presented by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.

ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
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